Vinyl records have been fluctuating in popularity since the 1930s. However, over the past ten years, sales have rocketed like never before. 2020 saw a whopping 46% increase in vinyl sales (and this number is expected to rise!).
What makes such an old, almost extinct, form of music so appealing? Can we expect vinyl to take over modern-day streaming? To come to terms with the power of vinyl, read on to discover why we prefer it.
3 Reasons Why We Prefer Vinyl
For some people, music is a means to fill the silence. This is partially why streaming platforms are so popular, as they have thousands of tunes ready at your disposal. However, those like us who listen to music to ‘feel’ something, tend to prefer vinyl. The experience is second to none, as you will soon discover…
1. Vinyl (Usually) Sounds Better
There’s long been a debate as to whether vinyl records sound better than digital files. Truth be told, the answer is entirely subjective, as everyone has different preferences when listening to music. Nevertheless, how records are engineered can provide some stone-cold facts regarding what might sound better.
Volume: Sometimes, when listening to digitally-engineered music, the volume hindrances its quality. This is because a lot of digital music is hyper-compressed to fit loads of different formats, meaning it may sound distorted when turned up. This is far less likely to happen with vinyl, as it is designed for its exact format.
Lossless: In addition to the above point, vinyl usually sounds better due to being a lossless format. Lossless means that the music has no electrical interference or compression. The sound that you hear from the vinyl is the exact sound that was on the master recording. The listening experience is as authentic as it can be, as though you are listening live.
Warm Sounds: Many long-term vinyl listeners reminisce about the ‘warm sound’ it brings. While this might sound like they’ve gone insane, we agree it exists. Whether it’s the slight crackle that resembles an open fire or the organic quality of sound, these warm vibes keep us coming back for more.
Although we love vinyl and all that it brings to the (turn) table, it’s only right that we play devil’s advocate. There’s a reason why digital is also popular, as we are about to explain.
Genre Matters: Not all genres of music work on vinyl, which is a problem for a lot of modern tracks.
A record player works by following the grooves on the vinyl with a small needle. The grooves have to be wide enough for the needle to track properly, but this isn’t possible with highly energetic music. Albums that are either too long or too energetic will hinder the sound. The same applies to high pitched frequencies.
Conversions: A vinyl record will only sound better if the music has been made for this format. Nowadays, most vinyl records are made from a digital master rather than following an all-analogue process. Although editing tools have come a long way, converting digital-to-analogue won’t miraculously improve the sound quality.
Crackling Sounds: Some call it a warm sound, some call it an annoying crackling sound. Although we mentioned this as a positive, it can also be seen as a negative to vinyl. Crackles and pops can affect your seamless listening experience and may even result in unwanted skips or screeching.
2. Record Stores Are Remarkable
We could debate the sound of vinyl all day; it’s such an important part of the experience. There is, however, another side of vinyl that shapes the experience. The record stores.
Record stores are remarkable places; nowhere else allows you to flick through records for hours on end while chatting to like-minded music-lovers. Some larger stores will even have players, allowing you to test out records before purchasing. The vibes are immaculate!
As long as you know what you’re looking for when buying second-hand vinyl, the record store experience will fuel your love for the hobby.
3. Vinyl Is Fun To Collect
Very few people purchase one vinyl record and say “that’s it, I’m done”. In fact, the complete opposite happens.
It’s extremely common for music-lovers to have boxes and boxes of vinyl records, reaching into the hundreds. This is because the whole experience brings so much joy, from searching for that perfect record to playing it on the turntable.
Whatever your reason for collecting vinyl, there’s no denying that it’s fun. Collecting vinyl also allows you to:
- Revisit old music (oh, the nostalgia!)
- Swap with other vinyl collectors
- Sell records you no longer need
- Own the music, rather than stream it
Why Should I Own The Music?
We’re not saying you have to own music, but we are saying that you’ll gain a lot of benefits from doing so. Purchasing music on vinyl (or any other format, for that matter) will financially benefit the artist far more than streams do. This is really helpful for small independent artists, in particular.
Purchasing music will also add security, confirming that the tunes are now yours forever. Music can be taken off a streaming site at any point, whether it be due to copyright laws or an artist’s request *cough, Taylor Swift, cough*.
To Vinyl Or Not To Vinyl
We would be here for days if we listed every single reason why people prefer vinyl over digital. The quality of sound and thrill of collecting is enough to win anyone over, but that’s not to say digital doesn’t have its benefits.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what suits your taste best. Or, why not enjoy the best of both worlds? Music has no limits!